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ATP! Live Review: Blink-182 - Brixton Academy London, UK (08/06/2014)

Ahead of their headlining slot at this month’s Reading & Leeds festivals, blink-182 have been playing a couple of ‘intimate’ European warm-up shows, which I can only presume leads to their first and biggest mistake tonight: this is not a festival show.

That should have been obvious from the fact that every one of the near-5000 people shoved into an extra-sweaty Brixton Academy has shelled out £45 for the privilege. To fork out so much tells you one collective fact about everyone here, and that is that they are die-hard blink fans.

With that in mind, look at a few select items from their set list this evening: "Disaster," "Dogs Eat Dogs," a cover of the Misfits’ "Hybrid Moments," no less than five songs from Neighborhoods... I don’t believe there are many people in the crowd who would honestly rather hear these songs in place of other, older, omitted songs. Songs like "Mutt," "M&M’s," "Going Away to College," "Anthem Pt. 2"... This is not an album release show, why is the set weighted so heavily to post-2003?

That one, significant criticism out of the way, the band is much like you’d expect. They’re rude, they mess around, they talk about their dicks and each other mom’s and do what blink do. Except Tom Delonge is 38 now. Mark Hoppus is 42. Paired with the increased maturity in their latest work, the crass humour just feels a bit forced and unnecessary. It’s like the trio are facing a bit of an identity crisis in the third act of their careers, hemmed in by their juvenile reputations but striving so hard to be taken more seriously. Several times this evening they threaten to get stuck into the sort of on-stage back-and-forth that we all listen to the backend of The Mark, Tom and Travis Show to hear, only to catch themselves and insist they play a new song. It’s as if blink-182 feel like they can’t be blink-182 anymore and the gig suffers as a result.

The stage production is impressive, with two huge screens showing what’s going on to those desperately taking on fluid at the back, and when they do play older songs, Brixton erupts in a way that I’ve not seen since My Chemical Romance in their prime. Opening with a trio of "Feeling This," "What’s My Age Again" and "The Rock Show" is going to get any crowd riled up and seems like a great idea at the time, thousands of fists held aloft at the airing of rarely-seen pop-punk classics. But, perhaps inevitably, the momentum is killed with the following "Up All Night," "Down," and "I Miss You." Not bad songs, but all mid-paced, and blink never really succeed in getting everything back going after.

And they do air some old classics: "Happy Holidays, You Bastard" hanging around for all of about 25 seconds and "Man Overboard" a surprise, welcome addition to the set. But the overall pacing and song selection is off the mark tonight, and, I never thought I’d say it, but blink were a little disappointing.

- James Tremain

Set list:

Feeling This
What's My Age Again?
The Rock Show
Up All Night
I Miss You
Wishing Well
Happy Holidays, You Bastard
Stay Together for the Kids
After Midnight
First Date
Dogs Eating Dogs
Hybrid Moments (Misfits cover)
Man Overboard
Ghost on the Dancefloor
All the Small Things
Family Reunion

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